Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Tens of thousands of policemen, security guards, civil guards, volunteers and even helicopters are patrolling main squares across the country to thwart any sign of a "jasmine revolution". In recent days, anonymous calls on the internet had called on Chinese to express their discontent towards the corruption and problems of government and society yesterday the third Sunday of the month, by taking a "walk" in designated places.
Apparently no-one that could have been defined a "demonstrator" was seen: the squares and shopping centres were full as usual with people and passers-by. But the police, uniformed and plainclothes, established control points everywhere, fearing above all journalists and foreigners, demanding their passports and banning them from doing interviews with passers-by. Dozens of foreign journalists, for the second consecutive Sunday, were detained in Beijing and Shanghai.
In recent days, appeal to university students had also appeared on websites to join the simple protests, called "jasmine rallies”. In fact yesterday police patrols and security agents combed the university areas in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities.
In Shenzhen, thousands of policemen and security guards remained outside the McDonald's I in Huaqianbei, the place designated for the "walk", and other hundreds of police in riot gear waited in trucks and buses. In Guangzhou, the police filmed passersby.
Despite the deployment of these forces, the foreign minister, Yang Jiechi denied that there is any tension in China. In a press conference held today on the sidelines of the National People's Congress, he told reporters that "I have not noticed any sign of tension [in China]." He also denied that foreign journalists have been beaten by police. Last Sunday, February 27, a reporter for Bloomberg was punched and kicked by plainclothes police in the area of Wangfujing. " There is no such issue of Chinese police officers beating foreign journalists" said Yang.
Despite assurances from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Party newspapers continue to accuse the " A handful of people with ulterior motives at home and abroad have been plotting against China's rise and are trying to cripple the country's development by stirring up unrest".
On the eve of the opening of the NPC, even Ye Xiaowen, Party secretary at the Central Institute of socialism, criticized foreigners seeking to "create chaos and trying to subvert the Chinese government." Ye said that the attempt to imitate the "jasmine revolution" of Arab countries in China is "a joke", but authorities must not let their guard down.
Ye Xiaowen was director of religious affairs 14 years. A few days ago, on Facebook, an appeal invited Protestant Christians to join the "jasmine rallies”, at least in prayer to be held at two in the afternoon every Sunday.